Tag Archives: Orchestra

The Human Orchestra – “Lip Service”

Some albums can be defined entirely by their lyrics. In the case of Hamilton’s The Human Orchestra, their new EP is easy to explain: “I can’t get you out of my head.” The four-song album is a masterpiece of earworms. These songs are catchy and hypnotic, easy to stick in your head and find a home there. Lip Service is an album to love, cherish and listen to on repeat, and with real diversity and cohesion, The Human Orchestra is a band to go down as a major contributor to Canadian music.

Released in August 2012, Lip Service is fantastic from start to finish. It’s full of sound and talent, with 12 band members rounding out the orchestra and giving the album a diverse and well-rounded power. It’s got everything: horns, banjos, keyboards and guitars, and the pieces all work together to create something strong and interesting without being too overpowering. If anything it’s just cool; you’ll find something new every time you listen and eventually you’ll start making trumpet noises along with the tracks. That’s just how the album works: it seems real and alive, and it’s something you’ll become part of.

Everything about the album is great. The band has put obvious heart into these tracks and each piece is carefully thought out while still natural and passionate. They could be compared to a mix of Arcade Fire and Of Monsters and Men, big sounds with folky,”indie”-like songwriting. One of the standout features of the album is the voice of lead singer JB Reed, whose unique vocals offer a bluesy twang to the songs and create the band’s recognizable sound. Her voice is magic. It’s kind of eerie at times (“The Winter Song”), sassy in others (“Heavy Handed Heart”), and sometimes soft (“In The Middle”). No matter what, it’s fun and easy to sing along with, and that makes for a catchy and loveable album.

Something really needs to be said for the songwriting as well. With so many band members and so many contributions, The Human Orchestra deserves a real tip-of-the-hat for their ability to create such rich tracks and subtle arrangements. They fall somewhere between simple and complicated, seeming effortless until you consider the multiple layers and pieces that make up each song. It’s fantastic, it really is, and it’s definitely worth a listen or two (or fifty). It would be great to hear a full-length album from the band to see what other diversity and sound they have in store, but this is a great introduction to their potential as a major artist.

Lip Service is available on iTunes, BandCamp, Amazon, and pretty well anywhere you look. Follow them on Facebook and wish them luck at the Hamilton Music Awards November 18, where they’re nominated for New Artist/Group of the Year! The Human Orchestra is destined for great things and this album is the first step to take them there.

The Human Orchestra - "Lip Service"

Black Phoenix Orchestra – “Black Phoenix Orchestra”

There are a handful of characteristics that make for a good album: style, quality, chemistry, lyrics, the usual qualifiers. The band name, though, isn’t something we normally think about. After all, what’s in a name? A lot, apparently. Like the cover of a book, the band name says a lot about who the band is, what the music sounds like, and what you can expect to get out of the album. It lets you know “how this band will change your life: how they’ll save it, or how they’ll destroy it.” Black Phoenix Orchestra, a great name and an amazing band, does both.

Black Phoenix Orchestra’s self-titled album is incredible. There is mastery here unlike typical independent productions, and each track, from the fantastic introductory monologue to the album closing bonus “Waitin’ In The Water Blues”, is brilliant. These songs are shockingly good. It’s always easy to expect to like an album after a few listens, but this album does something amazing by blowing you away the first time you listen to it. This isn’t a statement that comes easily; claims like these are risky, and it’s actually rare to find an album with such consistent quality. Of the seven songs on BPO’s album, however, not one fails to amaze.

BPO would fit in perfectly among the grunge and alternative bands of the ’90s. At times they sound eerily similar to Alice in Chains or The Verve, and with bluesy tones as well as a few shifts to the psychedelic they are a comprehensive example of music done right. For example, compare “No Guarantees” to “Swamp Song”: two tracks with different inspirations and sounds, but equally well-written and equally mind-blowing. The all-important elements of catchiness and “singalongability” are there, but this has nothing to do with simplicity. These songs show depth and complex writing, and with a perfectly dirty, grungy sound, they are damn good. Take “I’m In Love”, for instance. This is an earworm of a song that resonates for hours, but it’s not just a simple little ditty. It brings a wall of sound that sounds both complicated and effortless, but with a little extra something to make it memorable.

Black Phoenix Orchestra is a band you need to hear. Stream their songs on MySpace or ReverbNation, or check out their Facebook page for music, tour news, and much more. Their EP is awesome, and they’re definitely a name to remember.

Black Phoenix Orchestra - "Black Phoenix Orchestra"

Alkatine Is Here To Stay

For the past year, the name Alkatine has been gaining strength around the Calgary music scene. And for good reason: the rock band has been taking the city by storm, playing high-energy shows and earning legions of fans with each turn. With the buzz they’ve already created and the exciting prospects for the near future, Alkatine doesn’t need a crystal ball to see that they’re on their way to huge success, something that just seems to follow them everywhere they go.

2011 has been an exciting year for Alkatine. Typically playing two shows per week to great crowds, the guys have been all over Calgary and beyond, reaching huge milestones and accomplishments for young guys barely out of high school.

By late June, Alkatine is already beaming over the success they’ve had this year. “We’ve already done a lot,” says drummer Doug Pocasangre. “Playing Beerfest was huge. That was amazing, getting to play there. … We’ve had shows outside of the city, Canmore, High River, [and] we’re doing Vancouver in the summer. … And we just got Penny, too, like eight days ago.”

“Penny” is the band’s new van, a white beast of a girl that seems more like a small apartment on wheels. It is in Penny that the boys are discussing music, the band, and the future on a warm Thursday evening, just hours before jumping onstage at Calgary’s Dickens Pub. The band’s energy is contagious, and the conversation is punctuated by laughter, flowing smoothly from one topic to the next. Taking turns throughout the banter are Doug, lead vocalist Brady (Ripper) Riplinger, guitarist Kurtis Lovas, and bass player Blair Lilley. These guys are fun, and they’re so open and inviting that it’s hard to not love them. Practically finishing each other’s sentences, they show incredible chemistry and a strong connection rarely found among four people.

On how they came together, the boys are thankful. “Me and Doug started playing together in grade nine … in guitar class,” reflects Kurtis. “And then it just built from there. We had a band, we had a few gigs. … It broke up, and then we recruited Blair on bass, took him away from sports and converted him to music.”

Brady adds, “Then by the grace of something Kurtis and I met each other and just formed something that I think is so hard to find anywhere else… It was too good to be true.”

“It was a solid fit,” agrees Kurtis. “We were all so comfortable with each other.”

The way they look at it, their relationship is like a big happy marriage, and as a thoughtful Brady suggests, the boys have been lucky to come together in such a fateful way.

Regarding their success, however, “lucky” might not be the word to use. Alkatine’s success is well-deserved, and has been earned over months of hard work. In the works now is their first album, to be released later this year. The album has been a labour of love for the group, and they are in no rush to force its completion. “We’d rather put out good quality than just something to listen to,” stresses Blair, and while the band knows that fans are excited, they are taking extra time to finish the process. As Doug emphasizes, “We want to be proud of it, not just produce something that’s half-assed.”

At the same time, fans have a reason to be excited for the release of Alkatine’s first album. They’ve enlisted the help of Calgary producer and recording engineer Brad Taylor, who has also worked with Alkatine’s friends and other well-known local band Black Phoenix Orchestra (BPO). Brad’s approach to recording fits right in with Alkatine’s style, and they have been working hard to perfect and polish the band’s first official release. “Brad’s a cool guy. … You can’t really work with somebody you can’t hang out with, but we can go to the bar and have drinks and it’s cool,” says Doug, adding that Brad’s efforts and patience have pushed Alkatine to create an album they’re proud of. The guys all agree that they have been lucky to connect with Brad, and look forward to the final product. “The wait is worth it,” promises Kurtis.

In the meantime, Alkatine has a lot going on. They’ve got shows booked throughout the summer, including a mud-wrestling show at The Blind Beggar during Stampede and a western road trip at the end of July. They’re also opening for Throne of Vengeance on August 5 when the metal band returns from their cross-country tour. Fans of Alkatine have a lot to look forward to this summer, and the band is ready to prove why they’re seen as the next big thing.

Despite this year’s accomplishments, the boys are still humble and modest, and are proud of their success, if not a bit surprised. But lead singer Brady is quick to point out that they’re not done yet: “We’re in this for life,” he says, a slow smile stretching across his face. “And we’re not going to stop.”

Check out Alkatine by visiting their Myspace page or Facebook, and stay tuned for more information regarding the release of their first album.